GUEST COLUMN: Fighting for a brighter future for America
We have reached a dangerous point in America.
Americans have always believed that a brighter future was right over the horizon - and for most of our history, that was true. Not anymore. At the end of 2015, four out of every five people believed our country was headed in the wrong direction. That's 80 percent!
It's easy to see why. Buying power is essentially stagnant. Opportunities for upward mobility - especially for the disadvantaged - have diminished. We are headed toward a two-tiered society, rather than one defined by opportunity for all.
Changing this trajectory is the greatest challenge of our day.
This weekend my wife and I will join hundreds of entrepreneurs, including Charles and David Koch, in Colorado Springs to chart a path to restore America's promise. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have differing beliefs on certain issues. But we're united in our confidence that a brighter future in America is possible.
Our shared optimism is rooted in personal experience - we've seen America firing on all cylinders. We've lived during a time when people from all walks of life believe they can improve their own lives and make a positive impact in their community.
I have been blessed to see this in my own life. My family didn't have much when I was growing up. But the possibilities seemed limitless. America was safer and more free than it is today. In the fifth grade I was wandering on foot far from home, knocking on doors and selling emergency flashlights. Later I sold aluminum siding, steel buildings, vacuum cleaners and water treatment equipment door to door, and built a landscaping company to 14 employees by age 17.
As an adult, I've expressed my entrepreneurial interests in various sectors, including high-tech, commercial development and business- to-business services. I've had ups and downs, but I've always enjoyed the fulfillment of being a job creator and adding value in the spirit of customer success.
Stories like mine seemed more common a few decades ago. Sadly, they aren't as easily achievable due to a significantly more intrusive government and an overall decline in the virtuous principles that build prosperity.
For example, education has historically been known as the gateway to a better life. Now American public education and higher education is skewed against open and honest discovery. To turn this around, we must promote choice, innovation and respect all views, including the principles that guided our nation at its founding.
Another arena is big business. Corporations too often turn their attention from adding value to grabbing corporate welfare through special-interest handouts and enriching themselves at everyone else's expense. Success of businesses should be determined by how they freely and openly serve the customer, not by how well-connected they are. And certainly not by how well they erect artificial barriers to entry through government partnerships that are inaccessible to the small business.
Speaking of the government - politicians and bureaucrats have forgotten their role. Government officials need to have a more sensible view of themselves - they are supposed to serve the people who elected them. They need a vision for people - how to empower them to live free.
Unfortunately, top-down control has trapped people in poverty and prevented them from climbing the ladder of opportunity.
No wonder almost everyone believes America is headed in the wrong direction. But it doesn't have to be this way.
We can unleash our country's potential and give everyone the chance to achieve a better life. A brighter future is still just over the horizon, as long as we have the courage to fight for it.
Barry Farah, CEO and founder of Precocity LLC, and his wife, Tamra, are members of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and have lived in Colorado Springs for 22 years.